Pain Relief For Arthritis Happy Valley & Sandy, OR

If Sitting Is The New Smoking, How Do We Quit?

The least you need to know:

  1. It is estimated that approximately 12 % of mortality in the US is related to lack of regular physical activity and that physical inactivity is associated with at least a twofold increase in the risk for coronary events (
  2. Although both are important, regular exercise is more important than weight loss in decreasing the health risks from being “out of shape”
  3. We are busy and need to find ways to get exercise or our health will get worse
  4. Programs have shown that private funding of exercise incentives actually SAVE companies money and improve worker productivity

Smoking If Sitting Is The New Smoking, How Do We Quit?

We all know exercise needs to be part of our daily lives, but when we are honest, it’s hard and inconvenient. Most of us work full time, have kids, have interests, other interests, and let’s not even bring up NetFlix and Hulu. What’s more, we shame, blame, and personalize obesity and chronic illness instead of looking at the bigger picture. We as a collective think of John’s or Jane’s weight as a result of their laziness, poor self control, and bad habits. We forget that this is a bigger problem. If 34.9% of all adults in 2012 were classified as obese by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, then perhaps this isn’t the fault of John or Jane, but a society that promotes poor food choices and sedentary life styles. Perhaps like the once raging epidemic of smoking, we should look more socially at ways to impact healthy lifestyles.

Despite diet changes being more effective for weight loss than exercise alone, a new study has shown that exercise is more important than weight loss in helping reduce the illness effects of being out of shape (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, heart failure and stroke… to name a few). The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition actually stated, “The greatest reductions in mortality risk were observed between the 2 lowest activity groups across levels … which suggests that efforts to encourage even small increases in activity in inactive individuals may be beneficial to public health.” Furthermore, exercise is also effective in helping maintain weight loss that is achieved by diets based on a caloric deficit. In other words, it’s the exercise that will make your weight loss less “fragile” and keep you from getting stuck on the yo-yo of dieting.

What should we do about this? Exercise. Yes, I know. It’s hard to find time to exercise, like we talked about before. One country has decided to do something about this epidemic: Finland. Finland has pushed for public policy that would attempt to reduce the amount of time that people spend sitting. How are they doing this? Subsidizing gyms, promoting bike and walking paths that help people get to work without adding sitting time, and providing tax breaks for companies that do the same for their employees. Businesses have begun encouraging their employees to participate in sports ON THE CLOCK (an hour a week because they still have to get something done). It’s not just a few employers doing this either.

A recent article reports that up to 90% of businesses in Finland contribute to employees exercising through funding of recreation. On average $220 was spent on each employee in the form of gym fees, building exercise facilities, locker rooms and other recreation activities for employees. It started because the government subsidized these expenses,and as funding declined, private programs have continued to expanded. These programs have been reviewed and a look at their numbers have shown that businesses get their money back at about 6:1. How? Fewer sick days, improved team cohesion, reduced recruiting cots and improved bargaining with unions and decreased health care costs.

What would happen if your work place had established sport teams and local grudge matches (this is happening in Finland by the way). I think the New Season’s lacrosse team should should defend their honor against Pizza Hut. Happy Valley Police could take on Providence Medical Group at basketball and why not have a flag football championship where Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and Dutch Brothers to settle things once and for all? I personally can’t wait to see OfficeMax and Home Depot with their bi-weekly cross country meet. Here’s my point, we all know we need more exercise and yet we don’t get it. We have known for years that adding a social aspect to exercise makes us more motivated. It now looks like adding work based incentives is not only helpful to the employees but to the companies as well. I’m not saying that the government needs to fund anything, in fact if the results from Finland are representative as to what we might see in the US, Oregon, or even just in Happy Valley, then our local businesses have a real economic incentive to help us find time to exercise.

Feel like working, balancing your life, family, bills, and taking care of your own health is a pipe dream? It’s not. Stay tuned. Our next post is an interview with someone who is doing exactly that, while owning a business, holding public office and raising 3 kids.